OVER 40% of children in Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Bulawayo do not have birth certificates, a survey conducted by civic groups has revealed.
BY TALENT GUMPO
Speaking during a feedback meeting with civic organisations and stakeholders at Esigodini Town Council on Wednesday, Women in Leadership Development (WILD) programmes officer, Permanent Ngoma said children in the three provinces face challenges in accessing identity documents.
“According to the 2012 census, there are 1 036 865 children aged between 0-18 years in Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South, so an estimated 445 852 children in these provinces do not have birth certificates and this has long-term effects as some have failed to access education and employment due to that,” she said.
“We conducted a research to find out why children do not have access to documentation and we found out that there are a lot of factors contributing to that.”
Speaking at the same event, Esigodini ward 16 councillor Patson Sibanda said the exodus of people to South Africa and many other countries had caused a spike in the number of children without documentation in the region.
“Over the past years we have had a lot of our children going to South Africa and other countries in search of greener pastures and they settle there and start families. Most of them do not have passports and when they have children, they are unable to take identity documents for them,” Sibanda said.
He said some send their children back home and do not bother to apply for birth certificates.
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“They do not realise that that has long-term effects on the life of the child. There is need for awareness campaigns because there is an information gap. People need to know that a birth certificate is the most important document as it is a gateway to every other document that one must acquire,” Sibanda said.
The other reasons that were raised include lack of information on requirements for birth certificate applications, inability to pay the required fees, time spent at the registrar’s office, and the poor customer service by personnel at registry and negligence.
The survey was conducted by WILD, Emthonjeni Women’s Forum, Basilizwi, Lupane Women’s Development Trust and Inkanyezi Development Trust, among others.